AN EYE FOR GLORY book review

It must never be said that the field of battle falls silent once the fighting stops, for when the guns cease firing and the last echoes die, the wailing cries of the thousands of wounded arise in a pitiable chorus of woe. Karl Bacon, An Eye For Glory, page 124

I just experienced the most memorable Memorial weekend of my 53 years walking the face of this earth.

When I drove through several southern states on my way to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference, recently, I wondered if any Civil War troops had passed over that ground. Little did I know I would return home with a gift, now a treasure, from a fellow writer about that war.

Growing up every boy wonders if he has what it takes to become a soldier, or a warrior. I balked at my opportunity to serve my country after I graduated high school. The failure of the Vietnam War was too fresh in everybody’s consciousness. I didn’t trust our leaders to be able to avoid getting us into another such debacle. So I went to college instead.

Men who were young during the battle between the states didn’t have such a luxury. The call came from the government and the pulpits. Each side knew their’s was the right to die for. Too many of them did exactly that.

Karl Bacon spent ten years researching and crafting his Christy Award finalist book, An Eye for Glory. Fortunately the smells weren’t as vivid as the scenes of an army private–promoted to corporal, then sergeant–of that day. I’m now amazingly closer to experiencing the brutality of war, both the actual and the inner.

I haven’t had much time to read an entire book in too many years. Either the urgency of my job, or the importance of my own writing have kept me from that endeavor. I’m grateful my van is in the shop so I had no excuse to go anywhere, except into this book.

I have an uncle, just nine years older than me, who enlisted in the National Guard out of high school. He was still in when his unit was deployed to Afghanistan. He was stationed on a side of a valley some of our troops were traveling through when gunfire erupted on the other side of the valley.

Two shots are all a well-trained soldier needed to end the conflict in a matter of seconds. The taking of a human life is not taken lightly by a God-fearing man. The dreams probably still haunt my uncle.

Michael Palmer’s story is no different. The echoes of his battles didn’t end when he was sent home after the bloody war. I’m grateful Karl carried that thread to the end of this book. The poignancy of his redemption is well-crafted and worth the read.

A box of tissues had to kept nearby as I read. I moistened more than a few of them. I needed to set the book down occasionally to let the emotion settle around me, as much from the letters shared between Michael and his wife, Jesse Ann, as anything else.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to fight in the Civil War read An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon. You’ll gain a new appreciation for all soldiers. No matter what war they’re fighting.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

My reflections on the 2014 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference

I made it all the way to and from North Carolina–letting that big sigh out now.

Clifford, my 14-year-old van, got me there again. He did complain this time though. Started about 50 miles short of the Ridgecrest Conference Center and got progressively louder as we came back to Plano, Texas.

We’re both in the process of recovery. I’m napping. He’s in the shop getting new differential gears–teenagers are always looking for attention, especially after a difficult time.

This week was a true vacation for me, just like last year was. That clean air in those mountains will always be the refreshment this old farm boy needs. My eyes teared up again when I got back home, not from any emotional stimulation, but from the quality of the air. I’m trying to figure out how I can live in the mountains while still attending church here. I guess that’s just part of the curse I have to deal with.

There were over 400 people in attendance this year–a new record; more entrees in the contests, too. We were all one big happy family while there.

I entered four categories in the unpublished writers contest. I think my poem and picture book entries were too long. My article for the web didn’t place, either. But, the one I most wanted to do well did. My middle-grade manuscript placed third.

I’ve been working on that one for about five years now. I was told it needed to be longer than I had it originally. So, I wrote a totally new beginning. That’s what the judges saw. That’s also what an editor asked me to send him.

Oh yeah, I’m going to pursue that. This one will impact some lives for Jesus. You just wait and see.

There are three types of people to meet at a writing conference and I met them all this year.

First, there are those who’ve been published many times and are farther down this writer’s journey than I am. They’re the ones I sat under and soaked up what they had to teach. I attended DiAnn Mills class on Creating Compelling Characters in the morning each day. Then I went to Steven James course after lunch to unlearn what DiAnn told me because he has a unique way of creating his stories. It was actually the same thing only different. In other words, I learnt from both of them.

Then there are those in approximately the same stage as me. I met Karl–don’t-call-me-Kevin–Bacon at last year’s awards banquet. We met up and spent quite a bit of time together. He gave me a copy of his Christy-finalist book about a Civil War soldier. Karl got caught in the Zondervan buy-out before the second book in the series got picked up. God has bigger plans for that story though. That second book is now going to be the first of a trilogy following a teenager through the war. I do plan on setting time aside to read An Eye for Glory. Maybe that’s why Clifford’s in the hospital over this extended weekend.

The third type of attendee are those not quite as far down the road as me. I prayed before the conference that God would use me to encourage at least one person during this conference. I met Michael Lewis and his lovely wife, Kathy, at last year’s banquet, too. I think I gave Mike the boost he needed to start his own blog. He works with an organization that works with human trafficking in Virginia. There’s somebody who could use some prayer support. He’s got mine. How about joining me in that effort?

There seems to be at least one person at the conference I wish I had more time to get to know. This year we had a World War 2 veteran who was crazy enough to drive all the way to North Carolina from Texas. What was he thinking? A 97-year-old man should know better than that. I had the privilege of shaking his hand once, but it was right at the start of one of the big group sessions. Maybe next year the two of us can share a ride.

I was contemplating getting a Mary Denman headshot this year. Then, on the Friday before the conference, the last workday before I was to leave, something happened. I was just doing my job, minding my own business, when the unexpected took place. I had to unhook from one trailer to hook to another one. While I was cranking the big handle to lower the jack stand I noticed the flap over my cargo pocket was out of place. So, I casually reached over with my free hand and pushed it back in place.

That’s when I heard that all too familiar sound of a solid echo in my head. The impact of the steel handle landed just below my eyeglass frame on the bottom side of my cheek bone. I knew it would leave a mark. Some blood eventually escaped the scene of the crime.

In the clarity that comes from a fresh ringing in my ears I remember saying, “Okay, Lord, I’m taking this as my indication not to get a headshot this year. Although, Mary’s headshots are quite a bit less painful than Yours are.” He didn’t respond.

I did actually get some Mary Denman headshots at lunch on Thursday, but, not of me.

Thursday’s lunch is a very easy time to find a seat since most people have left. I joined some friends at Mary’s assigned table, not expecting her to necessarily show up. She did, camera in hand. Another conferee came over and showed her his portfolio of pictures. She was enthralled.

I recognized a prime opportunity for a picture so I made an off-handed comment. “I wish I could sneak your camera and take some pictures of you right now.”

To my amazement she grabbed her camera, turned it on and handed it to me. As she went back to drooling over the computer screen I tried to figure out how to operate a real camera. I finally snapped a few headshots OF Mary Denman WITH Mary Denman’s camera. How many past-conferees can make that claim?

So, you see, I did get some Mary Denman headshots after all. I kinda like God’s sense of humor. I still don’t appreciate His whacking me upside the head like that, though.

There’s a good chance I’ll make my annual pilgrimage back to the mountains next year. Hopefully I’ll be closer to being published by then.

It’s all in God’s timing.

Keep smiling.   Wade

SEEING AS GOD SEES

“How long will you mourn for Saul, the rejected king? Fill your horn with oil and go to Jesse in Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons as Saul’s replacement.”

Samuel was usually surprised when he heard God’s voice. Never was he so glad to receive a message as he was now. But…”how can I go there? If Saul finds out what I’m doing he’ll kill me.”

“Take a heifer to sacrifice. That will appease anyone who asks.”

Samuel obeyed God’s directive and went to Bethlehem.

The elders of the town came to him as he approached. “Do you come peacefully?”

“Yes, I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Invite everybody to attend, especially Jesse and his sons.”

Everyone carried stones and wood to build an altar for the sacrifice.

Once the carcass was consumed by fire Samuel turned to Jesse. “Have your sons come before me. God has a special purpose for one of them.”

Jesse stared at Samuel, then looked at the elders. He motioned for his eldest son to approach the man of God.

Samuel watched the young man walk tall. A finer specimen of a man he’d never find. “Surely this is God’s choice.”

“Don’t look at his externals. I seek a pure heart. He’s not the one.”

Samuel lowered his eyebrows and tilted his head as the voice only he could hear echoed in his brain.

Samuel motioned for the next son of Jesse to come to him. God’s silence led him to see the next of the men until all seven in attendance had a chance to be seen by the prophet.

Samuel looked at Jesse. “I clearly heard God say one of your sons would be chosen. Is this all of them?”

Jesse cleared his throat. “Well, there is the youngest one, David. But, he’s out tending the sheep. He couldn’t be reached for this.”

Samuel sat down. “Send for him. I’m not leaving until I see all of your sons.”

Jesse turned to one of the hired men who watched the sheep occasionally. “Run, and send David here as soon as possible.”

The young man nodded and flew out the door.

###

Jesse and his sons mulled around the main room of the house until the front door opened. They parted from the middle of the room so Samuel could see David enter.

Samuel leaned on his staff as he stood. God’s voice was clear. “Behold, the next king of Israel.”

Samuel leaned his staff against the wall. He took his horn of oil and pulled the stopper off. He walked behind David. “Look up for your source of help and strength.”

When David tipped his head back Samuel anointed him with all of the oil from the flask.

Not a mouth was closed of all the witnesses in the room.

###

Okay, a show of hands, who else loves this story in the Bible?

That’s what I thought. It’s one of my favorite ones, too.

Any full-blooded Jew of that day wouldn’t have chosen David as a king of their nation. He was only three generations removed from a woman from the nation of Moab, Ruth; and four generations away from the prostitute from Jericho, Rahab.

The eldest son of a family was garnered most of the privileges. The eighth son would have nearly nothing left of the family estate.

Why would anyone think he’d be chosen to be a king? What made him stand out of all the people in the country and all the sons in that family?

Apparently Jesse and his wife put out quite a good-looking group of young men into the gene pool of Israel. Either one of them would have made it onto a magazine cover of that day. What was so special about this kid who was still a teenager at this time?

God explained it to Samuel when He rejected the eldest son. God looked at the heart of the individual as the most important trait He could use for such an important role.

So, let me ask you, where’s your heart at? What thoughts lead you into it’s next beat? What desires drive you to reach for the next skip of excitement?

Would you qualify for God’s person to lead a nation based on your heart?

He’s still looking, you know.

That’s right. It’s not too late to become a king or queen for God. He’s preparing a kingdom filled with leaders. Jesus will be the supreme ruler of this kingdom, of course. But, there’ll be more roles for rulers in this kingdom, too.

The most important trait of one of these leaders is you have to be a member of God’s family. An adopted member holds as much sway as a birth member. Jesus covered the cost of that adoption at the cross.

Another important aspect of one of these leaders is purity. I don’t mean you have to have been kept pure from your birth until you reach that kingdom. Purity of heart is what God sees. You can’t change the past. You can focus your attention on pleasing God with your life this moment, and the next one.

Are you seeking to make God happy that you’re one of His children, or, are you still seeking your own happiness? I’ve discovered that when a person seeks God’s happiness their own happiness is filled, too.

Faithfulness is another attribute of a godly leader. Is the foundation of your life firmly planted on the rock of the Bible’s teachings? Are you acquainted with it enough to know when someone is stretching it’s meanings the wrong way. Make a habit of studying it to guide your heart.

A leader without genuine love is merely a blow-hard. The greatest qualification we carry into this kingdom is the love we show and carry in our hearts. Does your heart break when you hear of an injustice?

I don’t know if I qualify as one of God’s rulers.

I do want to be in Jesus’ kingdom. How about you?

I’ll see you later.   Wade

My Advice to Graduates

Since we’re in the graduation time of year I think I’ll take a stab at writing a commencement speech for fun.

So get as comfortable on that bleacher seat as you possibly can, shield your eyes from the sun and try not to sweat to the point of being too odorous to those around you as these nervous kids think this is the biggest moment of their lives. In reality, they don’t have a clue. Maybe I can help them out a bit..maybe not. We’ll see.

 

Dear graduates, today is a big event in your young lives. But, don’t worry about it too much. Bigger events still await you. Events that will truly impact your lives and the world at large. Take a moment to swallow very hard right now.

You feel like you’re at the verge of something tremendous at this moment. Don’t worry, your next meal will work it through your digestive system in time. This too shall pass.

When you realize that most of the decisions in your lives have been made for you up til now you will really swallow hard. Just don’t choke on any graduation cake in the process. That could get really messy.

My best advise to you is simple. Don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, nobody else will, so, why should you? Seriously, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s called being human. Everybody does it. That doesn’t mean it’s good, just popular. I hope you’ve figured out by now that the popular kids are the biggest bunch of losers out there.

Just be yourself. Nobody is better qualified for the position than you are. Don’t worry about anybody wanting to copy you. They’re too busy trying to figure out who they are to worry about you. They’ll be wondering what you’re thinking about them. Let the paranoia drive them insane. You just be you.

Put your best effort into each and every job you ever have, even if it’s flipping burgers. You never know if you might have to come back to that occupation instead of retiring when you want to like they have led you to believe the American dream works. If they develop a system that no longer involves people to do that job then you can work at a museum telling people how you got carpal tunnel syndrome at your first real job out of school. No, it’s not sexy, but it’ll pay some bills.

Be purposeful in who you spend your time with. They’ll rub off on you more than you know. If they’re a bunch of losers guess what you’ll become. Just remember what I said about the popular kids.

Be the person you want your children to become. If God blesses you with rug rats those little buggers will copy you like they don’t know who they are, yet. Give them the best example to model that you possibly can. Apologize to them often. Yeah, you’ll make plenty of mistakes there, too.

Be the dedicated spouse you want to spend your life with. That commitment is supposed to last that long. Be different enough to stick out the tough times. The good times will return, probably after those rug rats have graduated and left for college or the burger joint.

Be the employee you’d want working for you. Don’t kiss up to the boss. Nobody likes that, unless they were one of the popular kids. One day you may get promoted to the position of boss. Then you’ll wonder why those rug rats working under you never took this advice to heart. How do you think you got that promotion?

Above all else don’t be your own higher power. That position is already taken. Only God fills that role. He loves you so much He came down as a rug rat to give us an example to live by. His advice is even more convoluted than mine is.

He wants us to love our enemies to the point of praying for them and doing good things for them. What kind of world does He think we live in?

He expects us to treat other people the way we want to be treated. Where did He go to school?

He claimed to be the only way to get to heaven. How narrow-minded can anyone be?

He came back to life just like He said He would. How much more proof do you need as to who the highest power actually is?

The choice is completely up to you. You can claim there is no God and live life with your head in the sand, or, you can put off making any decision about Jesus until it’s too late, or, you can accept His claims and live life more abundantly.

That’s the only real multiple-choice question you need to answer with your heart. I pray you make the best choice because there’s only one real right answer that matters.

Guess who wasn’t very popular when He walked on this earth?

Keep smiling.   Wade

A FINAL REJECTION

Samuel walked up to King Saul without fanfare. “The LORD had me anoint you as Israel’s king. He has a mission for you to carry out for Him. He has decided to punish Amalek for the time they fought against His people as they fled Egypt. You are to completely destroy ALL of the people and animals of the Amalekites.”

###

Samuel awoke a few nights later to the unmistakable voice of God. “I deeply regret making Saul king over My people. He has not carried out the command I gave him.”

Samuel rolled out of bed and fell to his knees. “LORD Jehovah, don’t take Your vengeance out on Your people for one man’s disobedience. Please, set up another in Saul’s place.”

He wrestled in prayer the remainder of that night.

###

After sunrise Samuel set out to find Saul. He went to the area near the former city of the Amalekites and found a soldier walking home. “Do you know where the king is? I need to talk to him.”

The man pointed toward Mount Carmel. “King Saul went to Carmel and made a monument to himself to celebrate our tremendous victory over Amalek. He went back to Gilgal after that.”

###

That knot in Samuel’s gut returned when he saw the smile on Saul’s face.

Saul walked right up to the prophet. “It’s a great day, man of God. I have carried out the LORD’s command.”

Samuel pointed at the animals in the valley. “Where, then, did that good-looking flock come from?”

Saul spun around, then looked back at Samuel. “They saved the best of the herd to sacrifice to God. Everything else is gone.”

Samuel stared into Saul’s eyes. “When you were small in your own eyes God had me anoint you king over His people. I brought you one simple command from God: utterly destroy ALL that belongs to Amalek. Why, then, did you collect spoil from the battle?”

Saul cleared his throat. “But, we did destroy the people. Only Agag, their king, is alive. The people are the ones who took animals which they’re about to sacrifice to the LORD your God here in Gilgal.”

A dust cloud rose from where Samuel stabbed his staff in the ground. “Obedience to God is worth far more than ANY sacrifice. Your rebellion and stubbornness are as bad as witchcraft and idolatry. God has rejected you as His king because you have rejected His command.”

King Saul fell to his knees. “I have sinned. I feared the people more than I feared God. Please, pardon my sin so I may worship the LORD with you.”

Samuel looked down at Saul. “God is not a man to be bargained with. He will not change his mind. I won’t return with you to worship Him.”

Samuel felt a tug on his robe when he turned to leave. The tearing sound made him stop. He saw a piece of his robe in Saul’s hand. “So the LORD has torn Israel’s kingdom from you and given it to one after His own heart.”

Saul stared at the fabric, then, up at Samuel. “Please, I have sinned. Honor me before the elders and the people so I may worship the LORD your God once more.”

Samuel took a deep breath. “Very well, I will do it for the LORD and His people.”

###

I am so glad I was born on this side of the cross. Aren’t you?

Saul was placed in a high position he never asked for, and likely never wanted, only to be lambasted for performing his duties at 90%. If a leader today performs at that level he’s hailed as a huge success.

What we see here is the true heart of God in action before grace took effect. Total obedience is what it takes to live up to God’s high standard. One mistake, one slip, one disobedient act is all it takes to displease the Holy God of creation.

Even if you don’t know exactly what He demands of you the rules are the same. 100% one hundred percent of the time is the standard that will get you on His good side.

That’s why God came down as one of us. He knew we’d never be able to attain that standard on our own. Jesus Christ is the name of the person He became. Jesus Christ is the only man who ever lived up to God’s perfect standard.

If Jesus hadn’t died on the cross He’d still be walking around today.

He didn’t die to pay for His sins since He didn’t have any. He died to take the sins of all people on Himself so we’d be able to come to God. When we accept this gift of God He sees us as if He’s looking at Jesus.

The transaction that took place that day is one of divine adoption. God adopted us into His family when Jesus’ life blood pooled at the foot of the cross.

Only when you profess your inability to reach God on your efforts and take Jesus’ sacrifice as your substitute will God look at you as His child.

King Saul rationalized his situation into believing he’d done enough to please God. He was wrong.

Don’t repeat his mistake.

For those of you who’ve taken that step of faith don’t use your adoption as an excuse to live any way you please. Sure, you’ll always be in God’s family, but, don’t come before Him with muddy clothes.

You are a child of the King of kings. Act like the royal family member you are. One day you’ll rule with Jesus Christ. Show yourself worthy of that calling, now.

There’s only one place I know of where you’ll find God’s standard to live by. Read your Bible regularly. Take it in like you take oxygen into your lungs. Don’t live life without it prince or princess.

Your heavenly Father is counting on you to carry His message to a dying world about His amazing gift of grace.

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Why am I putting myself through this?

Last Monday I went to my dentist. Okay, he’s not just “my” dentist, a lot of people use his services to help them with their teeth. That’s a good thing since I’ve been blessed with quite healthy teeth. Any dentist would go out of business if I was their only victim, I mean, patient.

He’s apparently good at what he does because this made two Mondays in a row I’ve been in to that office.

Two weeks ago I had a regular cleaning. I didn’t actually see much of the dentist that time just the tooth cleaning lady. I know she has a title that goes with her position, I just don’t want to slip and call her by some of the names that entered my mind while she gave me occasional discomfort.

I’ve never made it a habit of going to any dentist every six months as they request that I do. Not my dentist, nor anybody else’s.

They’re quick to remind me that my insurance is paying for it all. So, why not come in that frequently? I guess I’m not too keen on having a bright light shining in my face while somebody I was having a pleasant conversation with just a few minutes previously is causing me such discomfort that I’m giving her a few uncharacteristic titles.

Maybe that’s just me, but, this is my blog and I can rant if I want to here.

The reason I returned to my dentist last week was because of a bad habit I practiced over seventeen years ago. I decided that eating an orange a day would keep the cold bugs away during the long cold Michigan winters.

I think the added vitamin C did help my health, but the citric acid was quite fond of my tooth enamel, apparently. I went to a dentist back in the day when I had good insurance for my occasional cleaning only to discover that I had seven shallow cavities that needed a metallic substance put in them; or so that my dentist said.

Come to find out that metallic substance isn’t as good for my teeth as was once thought. I think. Because this my dentist convinced me to replace those metallic substances with plastic substances up in this day.

If this isn’t making sense to you perhaps you need a trip to “your” dentist for a dose of mouth pain-killer, because it’s making total sense to me.

As I was lying there in much discomfort, even with my mouth numbed, I realized that tooth cleaning lady was probably the nicest person in the building, except for maybe the lady taking my money as I left. Although giving my money away is never a pleasant feeling, either.

The question that worked through my head was, “why am I putting myself through this?”

The insurance company apparently thought this was a wise decision since they were footing most of the bill, but, was all this agony with silent screaming really worth it?

The words of Jesus echoed in my noggin. “In this life you will have trouble–read discomfort.” Yeah, I was definitely experiencing a bad part of this life in that moment.

Fortunately He didn’t stop there. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I knew the long-term results would out-weigh the discomfort I was going through at that time. Just as the joys of heaven will out-measure anything this cursed world throws at me.

By accepting God’s gift to me that was laid down at the foot of the cross I have a confidence that there’s coming an eternal day when all the pains of this life will vanish into an ever-lasting peace.

That’s why I endure all the discomfort to tell others of this amazing opportunity made possible by the One who overcame the world through His sacrificial death.

I pray you experience that same hope.

Keep smiling.   Wade

 

DEALING WITH IMPATIENCE

Samuel watched the man running toward him. The young man wasn’t familiar, but Samuel knew from the tunic he wore that King Saul had dispatched him.

The young man bent over in front of Samuel. “King Saul has assembled three thousand men at Gilgal. Jonathan attacked them with one thousand men at Geba. I think all he did was make the Philistines mad. There were chariots and horses and too many men to count showing up when I left. The king wants you to make a request of the LORD for him as to what he should do.”

Samuel motioned to his aide. “Bring some water. Quickly!”

He looked at the young messenger. “I have a few things to finish up here before I can leave. Tell the king I’ll be there in seven days from now. Don’t let him do anything until then. The LORD will win this battle. I’m sure.”

The messenger chugged the water, then let out a long breath. “I’ll get your message to the king. I don’t think he’ll do anything. I’ll make sure Jonathan gets the same message. He’ll be the one to fight them first.”

Samuel grabbed the young man’s sleeve. “You must eat something, first. It’s too long of a journey without food.”

The messenger stood. “Thank you, sir.”

###

Samuel watched many families crossing the Jordan River and continue east as he walked to Saul’s position still two days away in the west.

His thoughts brought that knot back to his gut. “Don’t tell me Saul began the fight without the LORD’s guidance.”

###

On the seventh day of his journey Samuel realized he would have to stop reassuring everybody he met that God had not forsaken His people if he was going to make it to Saul’s camp when he said he’d be there.

The closer he got the more he noticed people hiding wherever they could find. His heart sank when he saw a plume of smoke on the horizon. “I hope that’s not what I think it is.”

###

When Samuel crested the hill overlooking the valley near Gilgal his heart sank. It took all he had within him to not turn around and leave. He knew somebody needed to talk to Saul about his boundaries as the king, so he kept walking. The late afternoon’s light reflecting off the Philistine armor across the valley briefly stole his attention.

He got a lot closer to Saul than he thought he would before the king turned around.

Samuel felt the coolness of the blood leaving his face as he stared at the alter still smoldering from the bull’s carcass.

“What. Have. You. Done?”

The smile left Saul’s face as he turned around and made a quick inspection of the sacrifice. “When you took longer to come than you said you would I knew I had to do something before everybody left in fear. I need the LORD’s guidance on how He wants us to fight, if at all. I thought I could come before God like you do since I’m the king.”

The heat in Samuel’s cheeks told him the blood had returned. “You are a fool, Saul. God’s law strictly forbids anyone, but a priest, to offer sacrifices to God. You have crossed a line that you never should have been near. The LORD will now take your kingdom away and give it one who will follow Him with his heart.”

Samuel turned and walked to Gibeah. Saul and his men followed in silence.

###

We sure could use a few Samuels walking around these days. Somebody needs to have the intestinal fortitude to tell people in leadership what God expects of us.

Wait a second, why do we need a person to tell us what God thinks? He laid it all out for us in the Bible.

Why aren’t people in leadership taking God and His Word seriously anymore?

I’m not talking only about those in political leadership here. Why aren’t people in charge of keeping denominations straight following God’s guidebook like He wants us to?

Perhaps their itching ears have found another lover to court.

Moses laid out a prescription for God’s people to follow to prevent this from happening. Yeah, God foreknew His people would beg for a king to lead them so they’d be like the nations around them.

In Deuteronomy 17:14-17 Moses told the people what their king was not to do when he took the throne over them. The main theme is materialism.

In Deuteronomy 17: 18-20 Moses gave the action the king must take to assure he’d stay true to God’s law. He was to hand write a copy of the law and read it every day.

What do you think would happen today if a leader of any nation would actually carry this plan out?

King Saul obviously didn’t come anywhere near knowing what God’s law was for him to do what he did in today’s report. Instead of trusting in God to keep the Philistines at bay until Samuel arrived he panicked and lost his place as the first of a legacy of kings from his line who would lead God’s people.

This is why it’s so important for each of us to read the Bible on a daily basis, not just our leaders. I refer to it as God’s guidebook because that’s why God had it so well preserved through so many centuries. We should be learning from these Old Testament stories of true events to help us avoid the mistakes they made.

If you’re wondering which translation is the best I’ll tell you that it’s not so much which one you choose, as long as you read at least one of them.

I actually use several versions in my personal study. The message is the same.

It’s the same Jesus walking on water, the same Saul making a foolish sacrifice, the same Samuel confronting his ignorance.

God inspired all of the Bible for each of us to learn from. Immerse yourself in it. NOW!

I’ll see you later.   Wade

Murray Did You Know?

In my quest to strike something off my bucket list I taught myself to play a musical instrument.

The result astounded me. Not only did I master a simple child’s toy, I also recorded an original song in the process.

Makes me wonder what will happen when I finally sky dive. Perhaps I’ll just keep wondering on that one.

BTW I’m not real sure where that drummer came from. 🙂

Keep smiling.   Wade

A STERN WARNING

Samuel looked up at Saul. Israel’s first king was watching the crowd in front of them. Samuel wasn’t sure if it was Saul’s natural stature, or if the man was standing confidently erect.

That knot in the pit of Samuel’s stomach just would not go away.

Samuel turned toward the crowd and raised his hands. He waited for silence. “I have served you as your judge since my mother set me apart in my childhood. Tell me if there is anything I’ve taken that doesn’t belong to me. Do I owe any of you an ox, sheep or goat? Have I ever taken a bribe that blinded my judgment? Speak up now so I can make amends before we continue.”

Everyone looked around. Nobody said anything.

An elder looked at Samuel. “There is nothing you’ve done wrong to any of us. We simply want a king to lead us.”

Samuel took a half step forward. “After Jacob took his family to Egypt God heard the cry of His chosen people and sent Moses and Aaron to lead them to this land of promise. Several kings have come along to avenge God’s punishment to us as we’ve turned away from Him. God has sent many judges to lead His people back to Himself as confession has led us to repent.

“It’s not by the strength of any of these people that you’ve been victorious, but only by the sovereign hand of God Himself. Rather than content yourselves with God as your head you’ve asked for a king so you’ll be like the nations around you. A king will do you no good if you choose to follow after useless idols and ideals.

“It’s only as you and your king follow God with all your hearts that you’ll succeed. When you turn your backs on Him He will turn His face from you and send another nation to exact His punishment on you. He has chosen you only because He decided to choose you. He will not allow His people to perish only for His name’s sake. You must keep your focus on God and God alone. Your children, and your children’s children, must continue to follow God for Him to protect you in this land.

“To show you the severity of your request I will ask God to send rain during this dry time of year. You must know God is in control of all things.”

Samuel dropped to his knees and raised his hands. “Lord Jehovah, I seek Your power at this time to display Your strength to Your people now. Let Your majesty reign on Your people at this time.”

An audible gasp rose from the crowd as Samuel stood and watched a cloud form above them. It quickly blotted out the sun by its thickness. Thunder followed the flashes inside it.

A few of the people ran down the road leading away. A bolt of lightning in front of them turned them back in their tracks. A torrential rain drenched everybody.

An elder approached Samuel. “Please, beg the LORD your God to stop this rain. We’ve been foolish in asking for a king. Our sins are too great to stand in His presence.”

Samuel waited for the echo from the latest round of lightning to still. “LORD God, I ask for Your mercy at this time.”

The rain ceased as the cloud dissipated and the sun returned to dry the people.

Samuel looked at Saul. Saul’s face was pale.

Samuel faced the crowd. “You and your king must never forget the awesome power of the LORD God. He alone is your only hope. He alone will protect and guide you all the days of your life. The day you chase after empty gods is the day He’ll turn away from you to keep you in this land. Never forget that.”

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Usually when a coronation takes place the person in charge prays for a dry day. Samuel happened to be a bit counter-cultural in his approach to life. I’ve seen this trait repeated most frequently in those who follow God the closest.

Jesus Christ is exhibit A. I’m sure His disciples had scratched a bald spot on their scalp trying to figure out why Jesus was so abrasive to the religious establishment. Didn’t He know they’d need the Sanhedrin’s backing when they toppled the Romans from power?

As we’ve seen, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. The disciples didn’t have the correct view as to just what Jesus’ mission was at that time.

The Jewish religious leadership was too close to their religion and too far away from God. That’s the point Samuel was making by asking God to bring a storm during the dry season in Israel.

There is a time for the power of God to be displayed and a time when God’s power is not as obvious.

Jesus showed God’s strength as much when He walked on Galilee and calmed the storm as He did when he played with the children.

God is in the big things as much as the little things. The tornadoes that cause such devastation are as much a display of God as the flowers that bloom from the rain that fell from those same storms.

God wants the same thing from us as He did from His chosen people back in Samuel’s day: obedience.

Samuel wanted the people to see that it wasn’t going to be a king that made them successful. They were going to have to keep depending on God’s provision and protection no matter who was in the position of leadership.

Samuel’s warnings were the same warnings Moses gave God’s chosen people and they’re the same warnings for us today.

Trust God for the big things and the little things. Don’t follow the current trends of society if they lead away from God and His teachings.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

I’ll see you later.   Wade